Faculty Recruiting Support CICS

Informational Interviews

A Networking Strategy that Works

Whether you are just starting to explore new opportunities or in the process of applying, informational interviewing is a great way to give yourself an edge. As the name implies, informational interviewing is about gathering new information by interviewing people who are doing what you think you want to do.

 

Why

  • Start to build connections that could generate more opportunities
  • Improve your likelihood of an initial interview/phone screen
  • Educate yourself on what's it's like to work there which could help you throughout the recruiting process

 

Who

  • Alumni - Many love to help if you are brave enough to ask; those with 3-5 years of experience are ideal!
  • Other students - Yes, that counts; use Handshake to see who worked at your favorite employers.
  • Family friends - Your aunt's neighbor might be one step on your way to a great opportunity.
  • Professors - Use those office hours to have them help you apply your education.
  • Current employees - Who better to help you know what it's like to work there?
  • Former employees - Want honesty? This group can provide insights and might still be well-connected.
  • 2nd degree connections - A LinkedIn term for someone who is connected to your connections (e.g., family friends)

How

Short phone call - This is our favorite way since it is the most convenient and dynamic, helping you quickly build  rapport; we know it can seem intimidating, especially the first time, so start with someone your know fairly well or practice with us. You'll be a pro before you know it and you will have an advantage in the workforce not fearing the phone.

Coffee chat - If you are lucky enough to live by the person or are traveling to their area, meeting them face-to-face can be your best bet; it can take more effort and coordination but eye contact and smiles can make it worth it.

Email or LinkedIn - Exchanging questions and answers by email or using LinkedIn messaging is a good fallback option; it's super convenient and less intimidating. But this method is the least likely to produce optimal results since it's hardest to make a connection and build a relationship with words alone.

 

When

Before you apply

  • Develop more specific search criteria
  • Identify new opportunities and ideas
  • While you are applying
  • Build connections so you aren't an unknown outsider
  • Get advice on the application process

After you apply

  • Prepare yourself for a potential interview
  • Begin building a professional network of peers and mentors

 

Best Practices

Do

  • Tailor your questions to your research - I saw on LinkedIn you did this project...
  • Keep a running log of questions for the person leading up to the conversation
  • Take notes (during or immediately after if it helps you be a more engaged listener)
  • Send a thank you note the same day (next day at the latest); include specifics from your notes on what you found most valuable and any next steps
  • Confirm duration and that it's still a good time to chat at the beginning
  • Make or mention connection (person, experience, skill, etc.)
  • Introduce yourself (elevator pitch)
  • Identify goals for discussion and focus on 1 or 2 key questions, but let the discuss evolve naturally
  • End by suggesting next steps or communicating your 'ask'
  • Consider ending the call by saying something like, "it sounds like you enjoy working at [employer name]... if I end up finding a good opportunity and applying, can I let you know?" This is a soft way of allowing them to serve as a referral (or not)

Don't

  • Ask questions that you could answer for yourself
  • Say you are looking for a job - keep it focused on learning about the company, field, etc.
  • Spend your time giving them a long intro; instead use your resume content and even a short story to keep your "about me" elevator pitch relevant to the discussion
  • Keep it short - you can usually follow up later with more questions

 

Informational interviewing might sound daunting at first, but give it a try. People like to help others - and talk about themselves - so after the first or second conversation, we think you will be a believer in the power of networking.

You voted 'Yes'.